I used to have a football coach that would constantly say/scream the phrase, "Know your role." It was his way of communicating the importance of players knowing their specific responsibility on any given play. In theory, if players knew their role, a play could be executed effectively.

It's vitally important for us as youth workers to know our roles. 

And, as he so often does, the apostle Paul has something to say about this. Referring to his calling in relation to the Church, Paul states this in Colossians 1:25:

"I became a minister [of the church] according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known." (ESV)

So, according to Paul, he is a minister of the church (NIV says "servant"), not necessarily by choice, but because God has appointed him to this office. And look at the guiding principle behind this appointment: it's an office of stewardship. God has appointed Paul a steward of His people.

This word "steward" is a pretty cool one. It's the Greek word oikonomos, meaning "a manager or a superintendent." IVP's NT Commentary defines stewards as "managers of large household estates." These guys would not only run the house in their master's presence, but were responsible for it while he was gone. They were left to look after the master's possessions in his absence, in a manner reflective of the master's desires . . . in other words, as if they were the master.

How does this help us define our roles as youth workers? 

As a youth worker, I believe God has specifically placed you in your local church. No matter the crazy circumstances that might have led to you being there, I believe God has appointed you to this particular calling. And your appointment is guided by the principle of stewardship. God has charged you with carrying out your ministry in the spirit of one who is attending to the affairs of his or her master. The Master has charged you with representing Him. 

As a steward, you are tasked with carrying out your work as God would have you do it as if He were actually present with you. Our view of the teenagers we serve should be God's view of them. Our view of the work we do should be God's view of the work of tending to His people.

So here's a few questions:

  • Do you carry out your work in such a way that you are first and foremost mindful of the students who have been entrusted to you? Does what is best for them come before what may be best for you?
  • Does a principle of stewardship permeate the difficult interactions that will inevitably occur? When that one parent (you know the one) shoots another "dart" in your direction, do you handle it as one appointed by God to represent Him? When the senior pastor doesn't agree with your agenda or pushes his too far, are you responding as a steward called and appointed by God?
  • When you feel underappreciated, overworked, or completely misused, are you able to judge your worth based not on how others treat you, but on how closely your servanthood imitates Christ's? After all, you are called to act in His place, to love and care for His people as He would.

Stewardship is a high calling. But be encouraged: God has placed you where you are in confidence. The Master believes you can serve His people as His representative.

Know your role. Let a spirit of stewardship permeate your ministry.